Have your feelings been hurt and you just couldn’t let it roll off your back? Faster than you can blink your eyes, your heart sinks. Tension shoots through your veins. You emotionally withdraw or get angry. None of that helps, and you know it, but that’s your automatic response.
How do you recover and open your heart again to your family, friends and co-workers? Sensitive Introverts’ feelings fire more quickly, more intensely and last longer than non-HSP’s.
I’ll give you seven quick tips.
Tip #1: First, what not to do: Don’t gossip. Don’t shout damaging words that you will regret later. Don’t binge, eat sugar, drink, or do drugs. Don’t mope and withdraw without getting helpful support. Don’t suffer alone with a headache, backache, or stomach ache.
Tip #2: Breathe deep and imagine. Take several long deep breaths. Count to four, hold your breath to four, and exhale to 8. John Gottman’s research indicates that it often takes a minimum of 20 minutes for our reptilian brain to calm down. Breathing deeply will begin to soothe your nervous system. Imagine this scene: a stormy ocean with dark gray clouds changes into calm waves and sparkling with sunshine.
Tip #3: Tell yourself the truth about how you feel. If you’re hurt, admit you’re hurt. If you’re angry, admit that you are angry. Take responsibility for your emotions instead of projecting blame onto other people. Remember, people can’t hurt you unless you allow them to. Our external relationships can be used as a mirror to become more self-aware. Look at your life like the layers of an onion. Initially, you can only see the surface layers such as anger or frustration. Look deeper and you’ll find the vulnerable emotions that are harder to express. Feelings such as fear, loneliness, helplessness, powerlessness, or abandonment might be hiding down near the center of the onion. It’s difficult to share our vulnerable feelings in a responsible way unless we have lots of training. The first step is to admit the emotions to yourself. Love yourself enough to stay fully present, and don’t abandon yourself. Unconditionally accept yourself right where you are. When you can do this for yourself, you’ll be better able to hold sacred space for others when they are upset.
Tip #4: Examine your interpretations. For example, when your husband says something unkind, what do you make it mean about him? Journal your self-talk. You might think, “He’s insensitive, uncaring, egotistical, or self-centered. Men are like that.” Or you might think, “He’s having a bad day. I wonder what set him off? Let me ask him if I did something to step on his toes. Or, maybe he was reacting to something else.”
Next, ask yourself, “What do I say about myself in this situation?” Example: “When my husband gets angry with me, I feel anxious. It reminds me of when other men have hurt me. I’m scared. I think I’m unsafe. I think that I need to protect myself. I just want to have harmony.”
Ask yourself if you know your interpretations are true. Are you in danger or are you safe?
Tip #5: Develop spiritual intimacy. Imagine you are removing a plug from a wall outlet called “people” and inserting your plug into the Holy Spirit who loves you all the time. Develop daily rituals to deepen your spiritual connection. Read spiritual books, take a special time to relax every day, take a walk in the beauty of nature, and listen to programs that help you develop wisdom.
Tip #6: Cultivate quality relationships. Make friends with people who want to understand you, celebrate you, and receive the gifts you have to share. When you have a handful of strong friendships, you can remain centered and flexible even when you have conflicts with those who don’t understand you.
Tip #7: Develop self-esteem. Stop thinking that you should be like other people, or that they should be like you. Moss grows in moist shady places like a lush forest. Cacti grow in hot dry sunny places like the desert. Both are wonderful plants. Quit telling yourself that you should be able to live in a desert when you are like moss. Make deliberate choices about how to spend your time and with whom. Honor your unique needs. This will help you honor others’ needs.
If you’d like more help to transform hurt feelings, I’ve got lots more to share with you. With practice, you can become more resilient and spend less time feeling miserable. Isn’t that what we all want?
Would you like more help?
If you want to meet other people who will understand you and support you while you do your personal growth work, consider joining our HSP Group or attending an HSP Retreat.
Click on the titles for details.
You will receive expert coaching to understand your Highly Sensitive Self and heal emotional wounds that keep you stuck. You can overcome self-doubt and become the conscious creative force in your life, along with God’s help, of course.
I’m wishing you all the best that life has to offer.
Benita A. Esposito, MA, “Chief Trail Guide,” for Highly Sensitive Introverts on the Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self. Bestselling author of The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self – available on Amazon
Click here to watch my book video.